Mahathir in the Philippines for official visit, to discuss Mindanao peace process with Duterte

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad arrives at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, south of Manila, Philippines, for a two-day official visit on March 6. He is scheduled to meet President Rodrigo Duterte and legislative leaders on Ma
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad arrives at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, south of Manila, Philippines, for a two-day official visit on March 6. He is scheduled to meet President Rodrigo Duterte and legislative leaders on March 7.PHOTO: BERNAMA

MANILA (DPA) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday (March 6) for a two-day official visit, the first since he assumed office in 2018.

He is scheduled to meet President Rodrigo Duterte and legislative leaders on Thursday.

Mr Duterte and Tun Mahathir are expected to discuss ways to strengthen the peace process in the southern region of Mindanao after a law creating a new autonomous entity was earlier ratified in a plebiscite.

Dr Mahathir has always been a staunch supporter of the peace process in Mindanao; Malaysia served as mediator in the negotiations between the Philippine government and the Muslim rebels.

Security concerns are also on the agenda, as Malaysia and the Philippines share a sea border where militants allied with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria operate.

Dr Mahathir went on official visits to the Philippines in 1987 and 1994, during his previous period as prime minister.

The country is Malaysia's fourth largest trading partner among South-east Asian countries, with the total trade between the two nations at US$6.45 billion (S$8.75 billion) last year.